Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Silas is one?!?!!

On August 20th, our firstborn son celebrated the completion of his first year of life outside the womb! I can't believe it has gone so fast, as cliche as that is to say... I have loved every day of his life; he is such a delightful presence in our home. He is different than the girls in that he is definitely not as verbal; by his 1st birthday he was only saying "uh-oh!" (but saying it very frequently!) and now he also says "hello." But certain other things he is doing far before they did--just this afternoon I nearly fell off my chair because I saw him building a tower with blocks--four blocks on top of each other! I know for certain that the girls didn't do that til after 18 mos. and maybe after they turned two. Another interesting thing is, that even though he is a boy, he seems to prefer daddy over mommy when given a choice! That, I think, is rare in a little boy, but I think it is good! =) At any rate, those things are far less important than the person that he is inside and how God will use him in his life--he is certainly a little light bulb to our life, and such a sweet joy to hold, nurse, sing to, laugh with, and observe. I am so blessed.

We had pancakes for breakfast, and went swimming at the Oro Valley Pool--thanks to Golden, who decided to use some of her birthday money so we could all go. Thomas had an audition, so he couldn't join us, so it was me trying to keep three little children alive in the water by myself! The kiddie pool was out of commission, so we had to use the big pool. But everyone had a good time. Silas kicked and squealed! Sparrow was in a lifejacket, and on two noodles, and paddled herself around keeping her head above water most of the time! Golden mostly sat on the steps, even though she was also wearing a life jacket. It was awesome to get into the cold water! After swimming, I took them to McDonald's--I knew I had been saving that gift card for a special occasion! And they were so excited that they got to pick milk for their drink. Hah!

Our cooler was out of commission at the time Silas turned one, so we had his party at the Kuglers, our neighbors and good friends. I thank God for them again and again! Anyhow, it was just us and them and their sister/brother in law, and their mother, whom my children refer to as "Grandma Susie," and who played a big part in my own upbringing and home school years. I am trying more and more to simplify parties for my little ones in order to keep memories and expectations simple, focus on family, and keep costs down. So it was perfect. We provided the food, they provided the venue, and voila! Party! For the cake, as is my custom, I decorated with a toy on top instead of trying to paint or shape some elaborate scheme onto it. It looks great and is no hassle. At a birthday party last month, we had eaten some delicious home made chocolate cheesecake, and I had been wanting to try my hand at it ever since! I looked all around for a springform pan until finally my good neighbor Hildegard said she had two, and I could actually have one! Woohoo! Chocolate cheesecake, here we come.

When it came out of the oven, it looked like the grand canyon and I was afraid it was going to be too dry, but i covered the cracks with ganache and put silas' work truck toy (courtesy of auntie martina) on top with a bunch of chocolatey whipped cream. He loved it! AND it was delicious! He got to open presents, too, little tyke! One of my faves was a $20 gift card to Home Depot, for new cooler pads. Hah! Yes, that was mostly for mommy, but Silas definitely would appreciate that as well. (We got that from Emi and Jonathan--they are such wonderful, caring neighbors as well.)

To Silas on His First Birthday

Silas--you are a blessing. From the moment I found out about you, you have brought joy, peace, and confidence with you. We loved you for whatever you were, but on the day you were born and they said you were a boy, there was great rejoicing! You will always have the special place of firstborn son in this family, and we look forward to seeing you become a man--a strong, gentle, extraordinary man of God. You are like an olive plant in our home and add riches to our lives. Your personality is a delight and we love seeing you grow, learn, and interact with us all. Hide God's word in your heart--may He make you a lover of His Word and His name. May God grow you, prosper you, give you faith and abundant blessings--You will and do shine brightly. I love you. <3 Mommy

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Sunday Dinner Spaetzle

     Apparently I am German. Yes! It's still there! Lately I have been really sentimental about Germany, really missing the food and culture. I think it's the reality of the realization that my children are not going to have the multi-cultural childhood experiences that I did growing up, that is making my upbringing suddenly that much more precious and dear to me. One of the quintessentially German dishes that I have been craving is spaetzle (Pronounced Shpetsleh)--and it means "little sparrows!" how cute is that! Anyhow, it's home made egg noodles, basically, but it is a soft batter-style dough that is pressed through holes into boiling water. and it is SO! GOOD! My Oma used to make it in her blessed kitchen, usually with beef and a really hearty brown beef sauce to go with it, and it is probably one of my top 4 favorite meals of all time. Food. Heaven. Now mind you, it is super dense and has basically no nutritional value, but anytime you are craving a huge amount of extra delicious white flour in your tummy (like on a Sunday, when you've been really good all week), well, this is the thing for you.
     The thing about this meal is, you have to have a special gadget to be able to achieve the noodles: a spaetzle press (aka potato ricer), which looks something like the hugest garlic press you have ever seen. Or the ones my mom and grandma had did, anyway.

     The one I have now, I got from a woman in California who owned a European deli shop. It looks more like a flat cheese grater except the holes are not knife-like and it has a slider-cup to go back and forth over the top.

     This version makes not long noodles so much as tiny rounded mini-dumplings, but the taste is the same, and after tragically losing my mother's spaetzle press in one of our many moves, I was certainly glad to have something. The point is, if you have any German in your family, rediscover it, and for the love of your heritage, get a spaetzle press. If you don't have any German, pretend like you do, because this is one meal that is WORTH having a whole extra gadget in your kitchen to make! Do it.

Basic recipe and method:

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
dash nutmeg (Germans love adding nutmeg to stuff)
4 eggs
1 cup cold water
2 TBSP butter

Mix the flour, salt, and nutmeg in a bowl. Break up the eggs with a fork, then add them and the water to the flour mixture. Stir vigorously until you have a smooth batter/dough (I used my Kitchenaid mixer). Meanwhile, boil a bunch of water in a big pot with some salt. when it is boiling, press the dough through your spaetzle maker into the hot water. Cook 2 or 3 minutes and remove with a slotted spoon. Toss with butter.

(Now, if you reeeeeeaaaaally can't buy a spaetzle press and you reeeeeeaaaaally want to make this, I did find a recipe online that allows you to make the dough stiffer and roll it out/cut strips off of it to make the noodles, but I can't promise that it will be the real mccoy. To do this, use 5 eggs and only 1/2 cup water, mixing that together with the salt and nutmeg first, then adding the flour in small amounts til you get the consistency you need. Roll flat and cut 2-or 3-inch strips off, dropping them into the water. Good luck with that.)

So usually, where I come from, Spaetzle is served with jaegerschnitzel, which is pork, and mushrooms, or beef and savory brown sauce. I only had chicken, so I decided to adapt German-style schnitzel methods to chicken and make up a sauce. And here is where I discovered that apparently I still AM German, because it was sooooooooo good that I could have eaten the whole thing then and there. Here is that part of the recipe/process:

Chicken tenders (or if using lg. chicken breasts, beat them thin with a meat tenderizer)
paprika (Germans love adding paprika to stuff)
salt and pepper
a whole bunch of butter
1 1/2 to 2 cups chicken broth
about 1 tsp. onion powder, or to taste

     Rinse the meat and pat dry. Dredge in a mix of flour, paprika, salt, and pepper and fry in butter on both sides til just done. (My flour ratio was about 1/3 cup, 1 tsp. paprika, 1 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. pepper.) Add more butter if it has gone a little dry, and put in about 2 Tablespoons of your leftover flour mix, whisking it in. Add the onion powder too, and keep whisking as you add the chicken broth slowly. Result: super amazing authentically German-tasting gravy/butter sauce! YUM!

     Now: Eat heaping platefuls of spaetzle and chicken drenched in sauce, and if you're feeling good, make a quick green salad with onions and tomatoes and use a vinaigrette. Add some spaetzle, chicken, and sauce to the top and be transported to German food bliss.
     Here is my home picture. This was after my 1st portion and during the salad course and it doesn't look like much, but it is probably the best thing you can imagine eating. Ever.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Golden's birthday party

I can't believe I blogged Silas' birthday party, and skipped over Golden's! eek! It was because I had written it down in the family journal that I thought I had blogged it, and well, now I will. Here, from my entry in the FJ, Aug. 7, 2011:

Golden, 2nd child, 2nd daughter, middle child, fire cracker, whipper snapper, bright little sunshine, delight--that one turned three years old today. What a perfect day! Sundays are already enjoyable to begin with, and having a birthday on a Sunday--even better! Golden got to pick breakfast, and she picked french toast. So we had french toast with strawberries, powdered sugar, bananas, cinnamon whipped cream, and great big smiles in the morning. (And an extra [DECAF] coffee for me--yum!) Even Silas ate the same thing--I love it when he can eat what we're eating. Anyway, to honor German family tradition, Golden also got a gift at the breakfast table. It was a "My Little Pony" coloring book (yes, i did buy her a creativity-killing coloring book! She loves them, what can I say...) and two mini My Little Pony plastic toys that I had gotten at a resale ages ago and saved for a special occasion. One of them was to share with Sparrow.

After breakfast and cleanup, we did home church and then I got to making fondant (for the cake) and lunch. Golden easily took a nap after her lunch. Sparrow was my companion in cleanup, preparing for the celebration, and decorating the cake.

At 4 pm, friends began coming over. I had decided she could have three friends over--one for each year of her life so far--but then I found out that Adelyn (Danielle's cousin) was going to be here visiting, so of course we had to have her, too! Plus moms and babies. So it was quite a full house! We did a craft and painted nails. Then dinner--pizza and hot dogs. Then the cake (which was made to look like a present by using fondant, m&ms, and fruit by the foot). Then presents--so exciting! Our friends are so sweet and generous. Golden loved all her gifts. From me & Thomas she got a cotton quilt (every night she had been crying out, "Mom! Sparrow is taking all the blanket!" And the only extra one we had thus far was polyester) and a musical jewelry box with a little spinning ballerina inside. (Almost exactly like Sparrow's except the outside design.) One huge blessing is that as I was going out shopping on Thursday, I checked the mail, and my lovely aunt Martina had sent a birthday card for Golden with 50 dollars inside! So I got to go to Target and pick out a present for her--just what I'd wanted to do, but had been resisting--we can't waste $ right now. I picked out a toy cell phone I knew she would love, and now she has $ left over, too! She did and does love her cell phone. Can you tell I love giving gifts?

After presents we watched "Milo and Otis" and ate popcorn! So good! Golden loves watching movies, and so rarely gets to. (It hink I watched that one with Sparrow on her 3rd birthday as well!)

Oh. Super funny episode with the cake. We brought the cake out and sang "happy birthday," but when I placed it in front of Golden, the vent blew the candles out! We closed the vent and lit the candles again, telling her to blow, but instead she started singing "happy birthday" again! So we all joined in a second time. Then she blew out the candles. Hooray!

To Golden on Her Turning Three

Every year that you have been in our life has been a better year. Yes! To watch you grow has been nothing but astonishing and delightful. Your laughter sounds like music. Your hair is like golden down. Over the past year, you have grown and learned so much! From how to do tendus to learning "America the Beautiful" by heart, you do it all with assurance. You even learned how to draw ladybugs and lions, and recite a story in front of an audience. You learned how to help make the bed and how to say "excuse me, mommy," and unload the dishwasher. You became a big sister and you are so good at making sure Silas doesn't go into the bathroom or put little things into his moth that he could choke on--not even pink princess castles that are actually the same size as he--"he's gonna choke!" You've learned about Jesus and how to pray. You are so good at reciting Bible verses! And you've learned to be your sister's best friend. God sure wanted to bless us when He gave us you! You give our family so much joy. We love you, Golden, without end.
Love, your Mommy

Monday, September 12, 2011

July and August: From the Mouth of Babes

G: "I had a dream about a star and a moon and a big ditch, and I was not afraid of it, cause there was a shooting star, and remember there was a lion and a ditch and there was a nice dragon sitting by the ditch." -July 4

G: (praying) "Thank you that I got to see the boom storm. And hear the boom boom storm." -July 7

G: "Why do they call it 'brotherhood'?"
me: "It means we love each other. Like a brother."
G: "Yeah, and it means that we kiss each other." -July 23

Sp: "I figured out that 'gasoline' has a silent E at the end."
me: "And how did you do that?"
Sp: "At first I thought it said 'gasolinE' but then I figured out that the E was silent." (and with no formal reading lessons yet! go little 5-year-old!) -July 23

Sp: "Daddy's the coffee, and you're the cream, and I'm the sugar."
G: (shouting from the kitchen) "I'll be the leftovers!" -July 24

Sp: "God can draw on the walls because He's God and He's not renting a house." -July 29

Sp: "Even when it's the morning sometimes, it's still dark."
me: "No, you can pull the blinds up when you wake up."
Sp: "No, even when the blinds are up, it's still dark. It's the Jesus kind of darkness, the sin all around us." -July 30

Sp: "It must have taken a really long time to pave the road."
me: "Yeah!"
G: "Yeah! And God loves us--SO much!" -Aug. 2

Sp: "God is like a cookie. Except He's not little and round. And He's not for eating." -Aug. 3

G: "I love Daddy so much, and I love you and I love Sparrow and I love Silas. And the people is SO in the family!" -Aug. 5

G: "God will punish us."
me: "No He won't. Jesus already took our punishment."
G: "Yeah. And He took away all Jesus' blood. And His blood took all of our punish." -Aug. 6

G: "Somebody pooted!"
Sp: "Not me!"
G: "Oh. I think that was the egg smell that I smelled." -Aug. 23

G: (during prayer meeting) "...And thank you for mommy's new baby and that there is another baby gonna come out of mommy, and another one, and another one, and that we got to see a LOT of buzzards. Amen." (and THAT is how she inadvertently announced our new pregnancy!) -Aug. 23

G: (showing me an electric candle) "These are quieter than pumas, but not than trucks." -Aug. 24

Sp: "I hope Silas becomes an Indian someday." -Aug. 25

me: "What happened? Why does your leg hurt?"
G: "I dunno. Maybe a javelina bit it the next day and then it was hurting SO WELL, and then there was blood." -Aug. 25

G: "Mommy, why are you crying?"
me: "I don't know, I'm having a bad day."
G: (going off to find Sparrow) "Sparrow! Mommy is sad and she needs a band-aid!" -Aug. 26

G: "Mom, I keep throwing up and days and days, why do I keep doing that? When I eat too much food it makes me sick." -Aug. 28

G: (seeing me drinking a bottled soda) "Mom, you're like a man, like drinking wine." -Aug. 28

G: (seeing me squint because of the strong carbonation in my soda) "Mom, I saw you sleeping on one eye."  -Aug. 28